Red Wings open by hosting Hurricanes

The Detroit Red Wings relied heavily on their first line for scoring last season. That didn’t work out too well.

Detroit won just 17 of 71 games and earned just 39 points in the standings, by far the league’s worst showing. The Red Wings open the season at home Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes with expectations of diversifying their attack.

Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi provided most of the offensive punch last season, but the second line of Robby Fabbri, Filip Zadina and Vladislav Namestnikov looked sharp in the team’s last scrimmage on Sunday.

“I think the fact they were dangerous in the scrimmage is important,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We need more lines. So the fact they could be impactful in a scrimmage is good. Come Thursday, it will be a different animal a bit, but all they can control is the setting and then play great within the setting, and they did a great job of that.”

Namestnikov is among the eight free agents the Red Wings signed during the offseason to upgrade their roster. They also traded with the New York Rangers for defenseman Marc Staal.

Another defenseman, Danny DeKeyser, missed most of last season after undergoing back surgery.

“I would say that we need to, without a shadow of a doubt, be better in our team defense,” Blashill said. “I hope that not only the players we added on the blue line, but also the type of players we added up front — the guys that are fairly complete players, that are respectful of what it takes to win — ultimately, would give us a chance to be a more sound team defensively.”

Jonathan Bernier returns as the top goaltender, but he’s been pushed by free agent acquisition Thomas Greiss.

“He just comes and does his work. There’s not a lot else to worry about,” Blashill said of Greiss, an 11-year veteran. “He just totally does his job, and he’s done a good job at it. I think we’re going to rely on both guys.”

Detroit didn’t participate in last season’s summer restart in Canada.

The Hurricanes, who accumulated 81 points in 68 regular-season games a season ago, swept the Rangers 3-0 in the qualifying round and lost to Boston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs.

Carolina’s offense is once again spearheaded by the first line of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Teuvo Teravainen.

Aho piled up 38 goals and 66 points during the regular season, while Svechnikov ranked second on the team with 24 goals. Teravainen compiled a team-best 48 assists.

Jaccob Slavin, who finished fifth in the Norris Trophy voting, leads the defensive corps. Dougie Hamilton will be his main partner at the blue line. He was limited to 47 games last season due to a leg injury.

“He’s a big part of our team,” head coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We love him around here.”

Petr Mrazek and James Reimer will once again share the goaltending duties. With a compacted 56-game schedule, Brind’Amour doesn’t see any reason to name one of them as the team’s No. 1 netminder.

“It’s going to be tough to ride one goalie in this schedule. I don’t see how you could do it,” he said. “It’s good to know we’ve already done this rotation with these two guys and feel real confident in it.”

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